Celebrating the people behind British small businesses

Why taking a break is good for business

Are you one of the 40% of Britons who don’t take their full quota of annual leave each year? New research from online travel firm, ebookers,  shows many small business workers admit that they rarely take a ‘proper’ break.

Yet it’s one of the best things you can do for your business. Time away from the office boosts your productivity and creativity. It gives you the chance to unwind, relax and ‘declutter’ your brain so that when you’re back you can think more clearly and make more effective business decisions.

If you go somewhere different, you’ll learn something new and bring back fresh ideas and inspiration.

So why aren’t small business owners better at taking holiday? Many worry that their business won’t survive without them. That they’ll miss that big opportunity. Or nobody else in the team knows how to handle the tricky customers.

When you run a business, you owe it to yourself, your business and your colleagues to make taking a holiday a common aspect of work life.

Here are 5 practical tips on how to make it happen.

1 – Outsource the basics

As hard as it might feel, you will be so much more relaxed when you return if you switch off completely. Put an ‘out of office’ response on emails; use a call minding service to take your calls; or ask your virtual assistant to check your email and social media activity. If you don’t normally work with an assistant, consider hiring one to cover your holiday period.

2 – Plan ahead

When you sit down as a team to plan your year, plan holidays too. Map out your busy periods, your launches and marketing campaigns so that they fit round your holiday. Make it clear that all staff are expected to take holiday and check holiday booked as part of your monthly or quarterly reviews.

3 – Organise your social media activity

If you are the one who handles the business social media activity, preschedule content, or leave in the hands of a colleague or your virtual assistant, giving clear instructions on what you expect, and how to handle posts or comments.

4 – Clear division of responsibilities

Before you go away, sit down with your colleagues and get clear on the division of responsibilities in your absence: what will be covered while you are away; what can be left until you return; what about emergencies; agree wording for holding emails. Set realistic expectations and allow for flexibility and individual initiative.

If you are constantly checking email and returning calls when you are away, your team will never learn to cope without you. Trust in each other and give your colleagues a chance to develop and diversify their skills.

5 – Establish clear boundaries

Set clear boundaries when you go away. Turn off your computer. Remove the email app from your phone or have a separate mobile for business use and leave your business mobile in the drawer to avoid temptation.

As the boss, you are responsible for modelling best practice. Encourage others in the team to take their holiday. Remember it’s good for them and it’s good for business.

Written by Sherry Bevan, Founder of The Confident Mother  and supporter of ebookers’ Give Yourself A Break Campaign